Britta Ballhausen

Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research, Brunswyck, Lower Saxony, Germany

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Publications (2)12.39 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: In the human mouth, fungi and several hundred species of bacteria coexist. Here we report a case of interkingdom signaling in the oral cavity: A compound excreted by the caries bacterium Streptococcus mutans inhibits the morphological transition from yeast to hyphae, an important virulence trait, in the opportunistic fungus Candida albicans. The compound excreted by S. mutans was originally studied because it inhibited signaling by the universal bacterial signal autoinducer-2 (AI-2), determined by the luminescence of a Vibrio harveyi sensor strain. The inhibitor was purified from cell-free culture supernatants of S. mutans guided by its activity. Its chemical structure was elucidated by using NMR spectroscopy and GC-MS and proved to be trans-2-decenoic acid. We show that trans-2-decenoic acid does not inhibit AI-2-specific signaling, but rather the luciferase reaction used for its detection. A potential biological role of trans-2-decenoic acid was then discovered. It is able to suppress the transition from yeast to hyphal morphology in the opportunistic human pathogen Candida albicans at concentrations that do not affect growth. The expression of HWP1, a hyphal-specific signature gene of C. albicans, is abolished by trans-2-decenoic acid. trans-2-Decenoic acid is structurally similar to the diffusible signal factor (DSF) family of interkingdom-signaling molecules and is the first member of this family from a Gram-positive organism (Streptococcus DSF, SDSF). SDSF activity was also found in S. mitis, S. oralis, and S. sanguinis, but not in other oral bacteria. SDSF could be relevant in shaping multispecies Candida bacteria biofilms in the human body.
    No preview · Article · Jul 2010 · ChemBioChem
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    ABSTRACT: Dinoroseobacter shibae DFL12(T), a member of the globally important marine Roseobacter clade, comprises symbionts of cosmopolitan marine microalgae, including toxic dinoflagellates. Its annotated 4 417 868 bp genome sequence revealed a possible advantage of this symbiosis for the algal host. D. shibae DFL12(T) is able to synthesize the vitamins B(1) and B(12) for which its host is auxotrophic. Two pathways for the de novo synthesis of vitamin B(12) are present, one requiring oxygen and the other an oxygen-independent pathway. The de novo synthesis of vitamin B(12) was confirmed to be functional, and D. shibae DFL12(T) was shown to provide the growth-limiting vitamins B(1) and B(12) to its dinoflagellate host. The Roseobacter clade has been considered to comprise obligate aerobic bacteria. However, D. shibae DFL12(T) is able to grow anaerobically using the alternative electron acceptors nitrate and dimethylsulfoxide; it has the arginine deiminase survival fermentation pathway and a complex oxygen-dependent Fnr (fumarate and nitrate reduction) regulon. Many of these traits are shared with other members of the Roseobacter clade. D. shibae DFL12(T) has five plasmids, showing examples for vertical recruitment of chromosomal genes (thiC) and horizontal gene transfer (cox genes, gene cluster of 47 kb) possibly by conjugation (vir gene cluster). The long-range (80%) synteny between two sister plasmids provides insights into the emergence of novel plasmids. D. shibae DFL12(T) shows the most complex viral defense system of all Rhodobacterales sequenced to date.
    Full-text · Article · Oct 2009 · The ISME Journal